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California Senate committee passes bill requiring drug companies to collect, dispose of unused drugs

A bill was passed by a California Senate committee to start the first statewide medicine take-back program in the United States. The measure would require drug manufacturers to pay for the collection and discarding of unwanted over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Proposed by state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, S.B. 2014 was approved by the state Senate Environmental Quality Committee in a 5-1 vote. The state Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee will be hearing the bill on April 21. If the measure is passed, a statewide collection and disposal of unused drugs sold in California would have to be ... Read More

Senate Committee passes bill to extend anti-discrimination protections to LGBT workers

A bipartisan bill that would ban workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity has passed a Senate Committee by a vote of 15 to 7. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, known as ENDA, received the support of all 12 Democrats and 3 Republicans on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. The bill was co-sponsored by Senators Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.). According to the Huffington Post, the committee spent just 10 minutes discussing the bill before voting it forward. The Committee Chairman, Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), said that the speed at which the bill passed ... Read More

Gas pipeline safety improvements stalled by loose cannon legislator

On September 9, 2010, a subterranean natural gas pipeline owned by Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) exploded in the San Francisco suburb of San Bruno, creating a wall of fire that towered over 300 feet tall. The massive explosion killed 8 people and injured dozens more. It also leveled 38 homes and damaged about 70 others. More than a year later, federal investigators issued a final report on the disaster that cited “multiple and recurring deficiencies in PG&E operational practices,” and concluded that the company suffered from safety problems described as “systemic.” Among the “litany of failures” the National ... Read More

Legislators agree on recovery and restoration plan for BP oil spill fine money

A landmark new bill that would direct billions of dollars in BP oil spill fine money to Gulf Coast recovery and restoration efforts cleared the Senate today with broad bipartisan support. Senators from Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida — the Gulf states most affected by the BP oil spill – negotiated the long-awaited plan for months before coming to an agreement Thursday. The legislation is being welcomed throughout the country as a refreshing bit of progress made by a hyper-partisan government. The federal government will collect the funds under the Clean Water Act, which penalizes companies for polluting the nation’s ... Read More

Senate panel abolishes $75-million oil spill liability cap

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted today to lift the $75-million liability cap that limits the financial damages drillers can incur for their offshore oil spills. The cap, enacted in 1990 after the Exxon Valdez spill polluted Alaska’s Prince William Sound, holds oil companies liable for economic damages and cleanup costs up to $75 million. Damages over that amount are to be paid for by the government using tax money. House Democrats have sought to overturn the cap retroactively after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and sank in the Gulf of Mexico, creating the largest oil spill and ... Read More